Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,899 – Brummie

Posted by Uncle Yap on March 19th, 2013

Uncle Yap.

The puzzle today is rather straightforward except for the two clues which formed the centre-piece on the 60th anniversary of a great scientific discovery.

This is Brummie’s tribute to Crick and Watson, two great scientists (British & American respectively) who discovered the structure of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) in 1953 and together with a New Zealand-born British scientist, Maurice Wilkins, received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1962.

1 RECESS Interval Bay? (6)
4 DEFAMED Smeared most of grease on Miles in action (7)
Ins of FAT (most of grease) & M (miles) in DEED (action)
9 ISINGLASS Brummie squeals “Miss Gelatine” (9)
I (Brummie, the setter) SING (squeals but without s to reflect first person singular) LASS (miss) for a material, mainly gelatine, obtained from sturgeons’ air-bladders and other sources
10 EILAT Secure backing to go round US city winter holiday resort (5)
Ins of LA (Los Angeles, US city) in EIT (rev of TIE, secure) for the only Israeli port on the Red Sea, also a holiday resort
11 BIKER Road user’s dispute: “Speed of light disallowed!” (5)
BICKER (dispute) minus C (speed of light) Remember E is equal to M C squared?
12 STEADICAM Useful for one shouldering the responsibility of filming? (9)
cd for the trademark of a device for steadying a hand-held camera, consisting of a shoulder and waist harness with a shock-absorbing arm attached, to which the camera is fitted.
13 SASSOON Poet quickly penning “Jenny”? (7)
Ins of ASS (Jenny, female donkey) in SOON (quickly) Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), English poet
15 DOUBLE Drink largely is an old habit, timeless (6)
DOUBLET (close-fitting garment popular 14th to 17th Century, old habit) minus T (time)
17 PREFAB House assembled shortly before 1960s’ term of approval (6)
PRE (before) FAB (1960’s term of approval, remember the Fab Four aka The Beatles?)
19 COTERIE Circle lake bed first (7)
COT (bed) + Lake ERIE for a social, literary, or other exclusive circle.
22 MICROCOSM Sirocco winds in middle of summer — small world! (9)
Ins of *(SIROCCO) in MM (middle letters of summer)
24 ETHER Anaesthetic hitch — temperature’s dropped (5)
TETHER (hitch) minus first T (temperature)
26 DRUID Priest performed outside regressive old city (5)
Ins of RU (rev of UR, old city) in DID (performed)
27 OLD BAILEY Mature photographer the famous court (3,6)
OLD (mature) BAILEY (David Royston Bailey CBE born 1938, regarded as one of the best British photographers) for The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, better known as Old Bailey, after its location in London
28 THERAPY Treatment of two or more people crushing strike (7)
Ins of RAP (strike) in THEY (two or more people)
29 FLAXEN Yellowish Liberal stuck in marshland (6)
Ins of LAX (liberal) in FEN (marshland)
1 RAILBUS Inferior sort of storyteller reversing public vehicle (7)
Rev of SUB-LIAR (an inferior sort of storyteller)
2 CRICK Pull tail from de-energised insect (5)
CRICKET (insect) minus E (energy) minus T (last letter or tail)
3 SUGARLOAF A sweet conical arrangement of sulphur and flour cooked with Aga (9)
S (sulphur) + *(FLOUR + AGA)
4 DESCEND Drop down date on computer key tip (7)
Cha of D (date) ESC (the escape key on a computer) END (tip)
5 FIELD Lacking second WC? 2 and 8’s was 6 18 (5)
FIELDS (famous US entertainer identified by W.C.) minus S (second) = FIELD (Thanks for the tweak, muffin@5)James D. WATSON and Francis CRICK, (answers to 8 & 2) the two scientists who discovered the structure of DNA in 1953 in the field of MOLECULAR BIOLOGY (answers to 6 & 18)
6 MOLECULAR Plant developed a curl of the smallest chemical bit (9)
MOLE (plant as in a spy or secret agent) + *(A CURL)
7 DO TIME Experience prison function with back issue (2,4)
DO (function) TIME (rev of EMIT, issue)
8 WATSON Crossworder’s focus not as fixed with “Solver’s Assistant” (6)
W (middle letter of crossWorder or focus) + *(NOT AS) for Dr Watson, the sidekick of Sherlock Holmes, solver of mysteries
14,23 STRUCTURE OF DNA Initially, thousands uncaringly sunk in fortune lost with cards (15 25, as 2 and 8 discovered) (9,2,3)
*(Thousands Uncaringly FORTUNE CARDS) In molecular biology, the term DOUBLE HELIX (answers to 15 & 25) refers to the structure formed by double-stranded molecules of nucleic acids such as DNA; and of course,this was first discovered by CRICK & WATSON (see 5)
16 UP THE WALL Madly distracted Ivy’s journey? (2,3,4)
A tichy clue alluding to the ivy plant creeping up the wall
18 BIOLOGY Record-holding lad welcomes independent school subject? (7)
B-I-O-LOG-Y where I = independent, LOG = record and BOY = lad
19 COMEDY Sea contained by shrinking — funny business (6)
Ins of MED (the Mediterranean Sea) in COY (shrinking as in reticent and shy)
20 EARLY ON Like a nobleman working after a short time (5,2)
EARLY (like an earl, a nobleman) ON (working)
21 AMIDST In a haze, having died inside (6)
Ins of D (died) in A MIST (haze)
23 See 14
See 14
25 HELIX Spiral out of control, lie at the heart of hard times (5)
Ins of *(LIE) in H (hard) & X (times as in 2 X 2 = 4)

Key to abbreviations

dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram

54 Responses to “Guardian 25,899 – Brummie”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY. On the first run through, I thought I was in trouble but then spotted the theme and everything went quickly from there. All good fun, though!

  2. EB says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and, of course, Brummie – very enjoyable crossword I thought. Great use of the theme – almost 60 years to the day.

    One point – Watson was American.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap,including for the ‘focus’ bit of 8d: I can’t recall coming across that setter’s device before. STEADICAM is off the shoulder, but I guess the clue works. Good stuff from Brummie.

  4. muffin says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Brummie
    I had THEOREM (ORE in THEM) for a while for THERAPY – quite a decent answer, I thought!
    The weakness of this type of interlinked crossword was very obvious here – once I solved MOLECULAR I was able to write in BIOLOGY, then CRICK (fortunately, as it was very clunky clue), WATSON, STRUCTURE OF DNA and HELIX, barely having to read the clues.
    Having said that, 5dn (FIELD) was my last in, and became my favourite.

  5. muffin says:

    btw I read FIELD slightly differently from you, UY – lacking second WC (FIELDS) meant there was only one FIELD – I don’t suppose the difference is significant, though.

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks UY and Brummie.

    Enjoyable today. Once I had HELIX the rest followed reasonably easily, although STRUCTURE OF DNA and FIELD were not obvious. Had I had more confidence in my putative SASSOON (I didn’t immediately see why it was this), the S would have helped with 14d.

    In 17a, I thought “shortly before 1960’s” was possibly also referring to the date of PREFABs?

  7. coltrane says:

    Thanks to Uncle Yap and Brummie!! I thought this a fine topical puzzle which actually reminded me that it was the 60th anniversary of this scientific breakthrough rather than the other way around. It is a shame, Brummie, that you could not squeeze in a mention of Rosalind Franklin the X-ray crystallographer who died before the award of the Nobel Prize.

    Apart from the themed clues, 9a was my COD and last in

  8. muffin says:

    I seem to remember that Eric Idle and Neil Innes’s group “The Rutles” were known as “The Prefab Four”.

  9. William says:

    Thanks UY and Brummie.

    Dave Ellison @6 I see what you’re saying but I don’t think the clue works that way, does it?

    Failed to parse FIELD & WATSON but, as others have said, once the theme was established they wrote themselves in.

    Nice smooth piece of work, though. Thanks again Brummie.

  10. William says:

    Muffin @8. Spot on, well remembered. I recall they were named for Idle’s Rutland Weekend Television and made films like “All You Need Is Cash” and “Can’t Buy Me Lunch”.

  11. muffin says:

    I’ve only just noticed that DOUBLE HELIX (the “structure of DNA”) appears in the crossword.

  12. george says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the blog and Brummie for an excellent crossword.

    I’m with coltrane @ 7 that Rosalind Franklin is sadly missing. I never failed to mention her when teaching students about the discovery of the structure of DNA.

    Despite my familiarity with the theme I did not spot it until nearly half way through!

    (Anyone remember the Horizon drama documentary with Jeff Goldblum playing Watson?)

  13. muffin says:

    george @ 12
    Yes – it was called “Life Story”. I used to use it in teaching whenever time permitted (it was quite long).

  14. george says:

    (Further to my comment @9 I have looked it up and ‘Life Story’ was shown in 1987 and also starred Tim Pigott-Smith as Crick, Alan Howard as Wilkins and Juliet Stevenson as Rosalind Franklin. )

  15. Stella says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Brummie; I managed this in the end, though it was no write-in, as it seems to have been for others. I saw the connections eventually, but that didn’t help me with my last in, 8d, as I didn’t know the name of the scientist, and was by now not looking for the famous doctor :-)

    That said, the cluing was scrupulously fair, so that I was able to finish without aids (though I admit 8d was a guess), despite never having heard of 10 and 13ac, either.

    An enjoyable workout.

  16. coltrane says:

    Yes, muffin @ 13 and george @14; classic TV. Would it be fair to say they don’t make them like that anymore, or is that just the ranting of a grumpy old man??

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. My way into the theme was guessing that D?A must be DNA and it all fell out quite smoothly after that.

    I was also hoping for a mention of Rosalind Franklin. ‘Life Story’, which others have mentioned did an excellent job of highlighting her role in the discovery.

    Last in was OLD BAILEY.

  18. george says:

    coltrane@16 I agree. (That ‘Life Story’ was classic TV and not that you are a grumpy old man).

    muffin@13 I also used to use it in my teaching if there was time and there never was in more recent years, which is one of the reasons I took early retirement. Now I have lots of time and can spend it as I choose e.g. on crosswords!

  19. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    I was fortunate in spotting CRICK almost immediately (before I had even registered that there were linked clues!) so this puzzle proved very straightforward for me – until I slowed down considerably in the NE quadrant.

    No place in the puzzle for Franklin, as has been noted, but not Wilkins either: neither of the KCL scientists gets a look in so, for once, Rosalind is not being singled out.

    Usual broad range of well-constructed clues from Brummie. My favourite was 15a (though it doesn’t need the ‘largely’).

  20. Colin says:

    Thanks to Uncle Yap and Brummie.

    Like 16’s ivy, Brummie’s crosswords are growing on me (when they’re not sending me up the wall!)

    Just out of interest, is there any convention for when a clue should have a question mark? It seems to me that 18 works just as well or better without one.

  21. Mitz says:

    Thanks Brummie and Uncle Yap.

    Got off to a bad start when I confidently bunged WINDOW in at 1a, and it was only when I got to 3d that I saw I was wrong. The theme unravelled beautifully, a bit like the famous 15 25 itself. Like others I puzzled over FIELD longest: it is clearly the COD!

    RAILBUS held me up. Perfectly gettable from the clue, but I had never heard of it. I considered omnibus and autobus (thinking that maybe I had got 1a wrong twice) before getting there.

  22. Mitz says:

    Colin @20.

    The question mark question is an interesting one. In my experience it indicates one of two things: either a tongue-in-cheek cryptic definition with the definition of the answer being presented in an unusual way, or (more commonly) that either the solution is an example of the definition indicator or vice versa. So in the case of 18, BIOLOGY is one of many school subjects rather than being the definition of “school subject”. This same reasoning lead me to get 1a wrong: I thought we were looking for a double definition, with the answer being synonymous with “interval” and that “bay” was an example of another meaning.

  23. Thomas99 says:

    The question mark is normally used if the definition is an example of the answer, not vice versa. Hence “Pacino” can be clued by “actor”, but “actor” would be clued by “Pacino?”. So the fact that biology is an example of a school subject is not conventionally a reason for the question mark. I think what the setter is thinking is that “school subject” is only one thing that Biology is (it’s the whole of the study of life and only hence a school subject), and perhaps that it’s a slightly perverse way of defining it. I tend to agree that the question mark wasn’t really needed here.

  24. Mitz says:

    Yep, I’d go along with that T99 (your Pacino/actor example is a good one).

  25. Robi says:

    Great crossword – I, too, got CRICK early on and then the rest fell into place quite quickly. I thought Crick-and-Watson had passed into the vernacular like bread-and-cheese; apparently not.

    Thanks UY; apart from the ‘Life Story’ film there was a brilliant 2003 documentary (just repeated on Feb 23rd on More4) called ‘The Secret of Life’ where Rosalind Franklin got deserved credit.

    I particularly liked the FIELD clue.

  26. george says:

    Thanks Robi @25 for reminding me of the more recent documentary, which I have only seen once first time round; it was brilliant.

    I also very much liked FIELD which I solved via the theme and then smiled when I was able to parse it using the rest of the clue.

  27. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Brummie

    I saw the theme once I got 25d which I thought was a clever clue. Once there much else followed. I thought some cluing was somewhat clunky, especially perhaps 14,23.

    I liked 17a, 22a, and 5d.

    I had to guess ‘steadicam’ and did not much like the clue though the fact I guessed it correctly speaks for the help the wordplay and the crossing letters offered.

    I leave controversy over Franklin’s contribution to others who know more about it. Beyond that, the rules of the Nobel Prize stipulate a maximum of three winners per prize, which might have created problems had she lived, and the prize, as Coltrane implies, cannot be posthumously awarded.

  28. Rowland says:

    Just a couple of glitches as noted above but pretty good for Guardian, and it is a nice theme. Jus thought STRUCTURE OF DNA aweird entry, not really a conventional phrase, but it’s thematic isn’t it.

    Best clue: the simple 27across.


  29. Colin says:

    Thanks Mitz and Thomas99 for your explanations.

  30. Trailman says:

    I did not much like FIELD at the time; I spent forever on various alternatives to ‘loo’. Now I’ve seen it parsed, it’s classic misdirection.

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    There is of course a minor typo in the introduction to the blog. The words “the structure of” are missing from “who discovered DNA “, see

  32. MDatta says:

    Just what is a railbus? It can’t be the bus they decant you into when the train fails. That’s just a bus, isn’t

  33. Trailman says:

    It’s a bus that goes on rails MDatta. Has never really caught on.

  34. coltrane says:

    MDatta @32 see this link to a description of railbuses.

  35. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog.

    I thought 12a was poor. It was not cryptic at all – it simply required you to know, or guess, the trade name for a camera apparatus.
    Similarly I was disappointed in 2d: no part of the clue acted as a definition.

  36. coltrane says:

    chas @ 35. I had thought of “pull” as the definition. As in to pull ones neck = to crick ones neck, but I can’t find it in any dictionary so I guess I’m wrong.

  37. Robi says:

    chas @35; Chambers gives ‘spasm or cramp of the muscles’ for crick. Like coltrane @36; I think ‘pull’ is the definition as in pulled muscles.

  38. Robi says:

    P.S. Steadicam® is given in Chambers.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ummm, MOLECULAR? ATOMIC is the smallest chemical bit.

  40. muffin says:

    Derek Lazenby @ 39
    Actually no – the only substances (at ordinary temperatures) that can exist as isolated atoms are the noble gases; the smallest “chemical bit” of all other substances are molecules (or macromolecules, or ionic lattices).

  41. coltrane says:

    Derek Lazenby @39. I think Brummie is strictly correct here. The elements are made up of atoms but when they combine to form chemicals the smallest building blocks are molecules. So element hydrogen, two atoms combines with element oxygen, one atom to form a molecule of water.

  42. coltrane says:

    muffin @ 40. We crossed and your answer is better.

  43. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Brummie and Uncle Yap,

    I enjoyed this crossword but thought that the discovery of DNA was much more recent.

    I liked 15a. With both largely and drink, I started looking for a nautical connection. Plenty of layers to this clue.

    Giovanna x

  44. Gervase says:

    Derek @39 etc: The smallest entities which are ‘chemical’ within the generally accepted scope of the term are perhaps not even atoms, but positively charged ions, having both smaller mass and ‘radius’ than their parents! But it is unquestionably true that the smallest bit of ‘a chemical’ is the molecule. The clue works for me, within the ambiguity of its wording.

  45. chris skidmore says:

    Thanks to Brummie for an excellent crossword and to Uncle Yap for the blog.

    Despite teaching this for over 30 years, it took me ages to find the theme! But when I found it everything got much easier!

    Watson & Cricks paper on the structure of DNA was published in Nature on April 25, 1953 so the anniversary is still a month away!

    Another subtlety to the parsing of 5d – which was my last one in too! – is that Watson & Crick are a WC as well – and arguably the second?

  46. Derek Lazenby says:

    Love the total inconsistancy of that. If you accept that the noble gasses can exist as just atoms, then you by definition accept that atoms are chemicals, as the lighter noble gasses are not inert, they can react with other chemicals chemically. This has been known for over half a century. The book “The Chemistry of the Noble Gasses” was in my school library in the early ’60s. (It might have been Inert not Noble if you are trying to find it)

    Ions are still atoms, they just have a different number of electrons. To say they are not atoms is like saying putting more or fewer seats into a bus stops the bus being a bus.

  47. Andy B says:

    I agree with Chas’s comment about the unfairness of 12A. It would have beaten me under competition conditions because I guessed STEADYCAM. At least next time I’m watching the football on TV I’ll know what the contraption that holds up a touchline camera is called and how to spell it.

    Andy B.

  48. muffin says:

    DL @ 46
    There’s a bit of sophistry to get round your valid point about the noble gases existing as separate atoms. If the smallest part of a substance that retains its chemical identity is defined as a molecule (ignoring macro structures such as macromolecules, ionic lattices and metals), then an atom of a noble gas is a “molecule”.
    btw it’s the heavier noble gases – xenon, and, to some extent, krypton, that form some compounds.

  49. Derek Lazenby says:

    That’s just changing accepted meanings to defend a crossword setter. Molecules have always been regarded as consisting of more than one atom. Nice try though, but barely an important enough cause to justify the change.

  50. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Like some others I was worried that this was going to be a “toughie” until the D_A appeared. Had to be DNA so a lot fell into place.

    However it certainly wasn’t “straightforward” even then. A very enjoyable puzzle I thought.

    With regard to Chas @35. I assume you don’t do the crossword on Mondays. 12A would have been a beacon of clarity in a Rufus! 😉 and mysteriously nobody would complain???

    Thanks Brummie, your puzzles get better!

    And thanks UY. I just wish that once you could blog a puzzle that wasn’t “straightforward” or a “walk in the park”. Makes me feel inferior. We’d still love you even if the occasional crossword caused you a little difficulty :-)

  51. nametab says:

    I used to find Brummie quite obscure, but now often fairly straightforward. Struck lucky tonight by solving ‘helix’ early on (Pedant’s corner: strictly a spiral is the two-dimensional projection of a helix – and, of course, ‘helical staircase’ is a lost cause. :)
    Thanks to Uncle Yap.

  52. muffin says:

    I beg to differ, nametab – surely a two-dimensional projection of a helix is a circle? (Though I agree about “spiral” staircases.)

  53. MDatta says:

    Belated thanks to Trailman @ 33 and Coltrane @ 34.
    I am none the wiser.

  54. nametab says:

    Muffin @52: well corrected. Even less, then, is ‘helix’ synonymous with ‘spiral’ :)

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